Prolog: Audi et alteram partem
What I'm trying with this is either colossally stupid or an epic piece of work. Time will tell. What I'm trying to do is writing a series of 'novelizations' of all ENT episodes, except for the darn reset button episodes and the god awful Mirror Universe, which never did it for me.
This prolog sets up some of ENT's unexplained facts, like T'Pol's reluctant interest in humanity, her suspicions against the High Command or why T'Les ended up as a Syranite in the Forge.
Vulcan. Feb. 23rd 2150
T'Pol of Vulcan stood in the garden, hands firmly clasped behind her back as she looked over the vast, barren land that was her family's estate. Perhaps it had been a mistake to return home for a visit. The relationship with her mother had always been a strained one – ever since she decided to join the Ministry of Security, rather than following her mother's wish that she join the Academy and follow her maternal ancestor in the peaceful profession of an instructor.
The very same individual who was currently occupying her thoughts was nearby, tending to the variety of fruit and vegetables that grew in their garden. Not a word had been spoken for nearly 3 hours. Not many words were necessary between them – on the contrary, they would just lead to nothing more than another argument and they had had enough of those in the last few days.
If it wasn't for the fact that she had to return to a planet full of brash, emotional and infantile-minded humans, she would almost have looked forward to the escape from her home-world. One year ago, Ambassador Soval had made her a member of his staff – his personal aide even, which was unusual for a Vulcan of just 62 years, but she had always been a quick study. She had been just 35 years old – barely out of adolescence – when she challenged the logic of V'Lar, one of Vulcan's most respected Ambassadors, during a recess at the Kataan conference.
Life had been unsatisfactory without the father's presence – who had left them 10 years ago to embark on a deep space mission and never returned. Her mind went back to the times when both her parents were still alive. There were no two Vulcans who could be more different. Her mother, a diligent student of the ways of kohlinar and her father, V'Nur, who's emotions had always been very close to the surface – and, much to her dismay, as he had passed on this particular genetic trait to her. A scene from her childhood, which had often returned to her memory, did so again.
"Father, you displayed an emotional response again," the young child challenged her father, who had shown a small smile again, one which had often graced his features when he was observing his daughter. "Mother will be most displeased again."
"Your mother is not present to learn of it, child."
"Why do you not strive to perfect the control over your emotions as mother does?"
"There is no logic in trying to perfect something that is flawed from the beginning, child. My control is as perfect as it will ever be."
All her young life, she tried hard to reach her mother's level of emotional control, yet she had to come to the same conclusion as her father. While she was able to control her emotions almost always, there were rare moments when she could not hide all signs of them, like the slight flaring of her nostrils, when strong emotions challenged her equilibrium. But, for all his imperfections, she had always been attached to her father, much more than to her mother.
Her pondering was interrupted by sounds of a door being opened. Investigating the sound, she walked into the atrium. A hooded figure in an unseemly state of dishevelment entered slowly through the door. The robe was dirty and torn, scorch marks completed the picture of a man who must have had crossed the Forge and had made close contact to the lightning strikes of a sand-fire. T'Pol noticed a familiar slight limp as the disheveled visitor slowly crossed the atrium.
"Mother!" she called out. Her voice was not as firm and even as it should have been and her nostrils began flaring.
X X X
"It is agreeable to see you again, T'Pol-kan." Slowly, the haggard looking visitor lifted the hood. The familiar faint smile vanished, as soon as T'Les joined them in the atrium.
"Husband?" "Father?" they each asked with visible disbelief.
"It is indeed I. It is agreeable to see you again, Ashayam."
"It is agreeable to see you as well," T'Les answered. "I was of the belief that you had died. The High Command notified us of your demise many years ago."
"That is true for all my comrades and surely the wish of the High Command. I, however, had the fortune of being saved before dying a slow death of starvation.",
"Let us go inside, you need to clean yourself. I shall prepare a meal."
Long after her parents had entered the house, T'Pol was still rigidly standing in the atrium, fighting the onslaught of emotions that their unexpected visitor had stirred.
X X X
"Will you join me outside, child?"
T'Pol nodded and followed him out into the atrium hours after their meal. He looked much improved now that he had had a bath. His appearance was almost as she had remembered him. He was, however, very thin and his face had more wrinkles than just the ones that time would have imposed on his features.
"My time with you is short. I need to return to the Forge. If my presence on Vulcan should become known to the High Command, you and your Mother would be in danger."
"Are you a fugitive?"
"In a way. However, I committed no crime other than being alive."
"I do not understand."
"The High Command, or at least some of its members, are not what they wish the people of Vulcan to believe. Some of them have adopted methods of deception and subterfuge. I have learned of events that they do not wish to be known outside their chambers. That's why I am a target."
"I find it hard to believe that our most respected leaders would do such things. I have been serving the High command for 18 years and there was never a sign of deceptive methods."
"Is not secrecy the defining element of deception and subterfuge?"
"I was informed that you are now stationed on Earth, serving with my old friend Soval."
"'Friend' is a human term." Her voice contained a barely hidden tone of disapproval.
"Indeed it is. I learned of it aboard a human freighter. It is thanks to them that I am still alive. They received the distress signal from my escape pod and detoured a great distance to rescue me. They failed to deliver their goods on time and suffered a substantial financial loss because of doing so."
"Most surprising. Humans would put financial gain ahead of almost anything."
"So you have been told all your life. Nothing could be further from the truth."
"Are you implying that the Directorate of Science is spreading misinformation?"
"No. This assessment was true for the humans of the time of first contact. The Directorate simply never updated their information."
"First contact was barely 90 years ago."
"A lifetime for a human. Those who were thus assessed do no longer live. The humans of this day are an entirely different generation."
"It is hardly realistic to expect a civilization to change that radically in just a century."
"That would be true for our people. For humans, it is not. They have a strong sense of urgency, knowing that their lives are even more limited than ours."
"Indeed. It makes them reckless and leads to much harm."
"Meaning," V'Nur asked, fishing for the predictable response.
"They disregard our advice, resent our attempts to help, and do nothing without a distasteful display of emotions. We try to guide their technical advancement, yet they resent us for it. They are impulsive, prejudiced and completely without logic."
"How can you be living among humans for almost two years and have learned nothing about them, child?"
"What do you mean?"
"Do you not spend time to learn about the race that you have just so strongly denounced?"
"I do not... spend time with them. There is no logic in leaving the Vulcan compound to engage in inconsequential activities."
"Are you not mistaking arrogance for logic?"
"Clarify," T'Pol demanded.
"You are an aide to the ambassador to Earth, home of our closest allies. Would not logic dictate to learn about the race that we are allied with? How can you become a competent diplomat, without studying those, whom you are interacting with?"
"I find their emotions taxing to deal with. Their diplomats make few efforts to control their emotions and even less can be expected from humans outside diplomatic circles. I find them distasteful."
"It is disappointing to see an agile mind like yours being so ignorant. You have always been of inquisitive nature. I expected you, of all Vulcans I know, to be the first to understand that humans cannot and must not suppress their emotions. Answer me one question, child. As Vulcans we abhor the consummation of meat, yet as a child you fed meat to Kelmouth every day. Why?"
"He was a sehlat, he could not sustain himself on anything but meat. I do not understand why you ask me such a foolish question."
"He needed meat to survive, so you found nothing distasteful in feeding him meat. Yet you consider human emotions distasteful, even though they need to express them in order to survive. If a human tries to suppress his emotions, he will eventually be overwhelmed and die or be mentally crippled."
"I do not see it like that," T'Pol disagreed. "With the proper discipline they would be able to keep their unseemly displays of emotionality to a minimum, but they do not seem willing to make the effort."
"How many efforts have you been making to accept these displays instead of despising them, child?"
"Let me tell you of Nikolai Rostov. He his the main engineer on the freighter that rescued me. He comes from a family with a long engineering tradition."
X X X
June 2142, United Earth freighter Gerald Ford
"Good morning, Gospodin V'Nur, how are we this morning?" the lanky engineer greeted and shook the proffered hand of the Vulcan.
"Good morning, Mr. Rostov. I am, unfortunately, slightly unwell."
"Could the doc not help?"
"It is nothing that the doctor would be able to help with. I find it difficult to meditate. It is straining my emotional control. The many noises of the ship make it difficult to find the necessary focus."
"Hm," the engineer hummed and started searching through a little cabinet in his office. "Maybe you should try that."
"What is it?," the Vulcan asked, looking at the little data module.
"Music, 'Concerto for Flute and Harp in C' by Mozart, more than 300 years old. That does not only mask the noises, it also has a calming effect on me when I had a difficult day."
"You meditate, Mr. Rostov?"
"Most likely not in the way as you do, Gospodin V'Nur. But sometimes, when the engines acted up again and I'm really irritated, it spares me the urge to smash something up," the engineer admitted with a chuckle.
"Maybe you want to try looking into the music database, if you don't like this piece. Music comes in many facets and styles."
"Thank you, Mr. Rostov."
X X X
"According to your views, Mr. Rostov would have been considered the most bothersome of all the humans aboard. He insisted on using an appellation of his native tongue, even though human Standard has a perfectly suitable word. His colleagues called this a 'quirk'. He was the easiest for me to interact with. I soon noticed that he started to change his expressions of emotions in my presence. He tried to hide the stronger ones from my view. When I inquired about it, he explained that I was the first Vulcan he had met who willingly accepted his 'quirks' and felt compelled to do the same for mine."
"Most illogical. You appear to have taken on some of those 'quirks' by shaking hands or gratuitous expressions of gratitude."
"Do you see any logic in trying to make them behave like a Vulcan?"
"I consider it a matter of respect that they adhere to our cultural protocols."
"What has become of you, child? I did not raise you to such an arrogance," V'Nur answered in palpable disapproval. "What of their cultural protocols? I was a guest on a human ship. What right did I have to impose my culture on them?"
"Touching an individual is distasteful, even if it is part of their culture," T'Pol insisted.
"You obviously do know nothing about them. The ritual of shaking hands comes from ancient times, when humans were still as savage as we once were. The gesture of offering and taking the open hand was a gesture of peacefulness, showing that one did not have a hidden weapon. Although this assurance is no longer a necessity, the symbolic handshake is still a gesture of good will and peace. The expression of gratitude is a matter of protocol. In human society it is considered exceedingly rude to accept a service or a gift without expressing gratitude."
"We have never expressed gratitude and the humans never filed a complaint."
"They chose to endure our rudeness, knowing that we consider it illogical. Maybe we should challenge our beliefs about them and ourselves."
"Challenge your misconceptions or they will challenge you."
"I do not believe that Surak had humans in mind when he wrote this statement."
"Learn about them, child," V'Nur said and stood up from the bench. "The more you learn about them, the more you will learn about yourself. I need to return to the Forge. I left your mother information on how to find me, should the need arise. Peace and long life, T'Pol-kan."
"Live long and prosper, father."
Silently, as he had come a few hours ago, he went out of the door.
Vulcan Compound, San Francisco, Earth, Feb. 23rd 2151
The candle's flame flickered silently in the cabin of ambassadorial assistant T'Pol of Vulcan. The cabin's inhabitant sat silently in meditation, remembering the short visit of her father, exactly one year ago. For long years she and her mother had believed him to be dead, but a human freighter had saved him from sudden death.
When he paid them his short visit a year ago, he was not the man that had left them a decade before. Once a steadfast High Command loyalist and a man who put Vulcan interests above all else, he was now fascinated by the humans. She remembered his words well, and they stung still as painful as the moment he had spoken them.
"What has become of you, child? I did not raise you to such an arrogance."
Hearing such harsh words from the father, the parent that had always had the lion share of her affection, was most displeased. Having his approval had always been her most important goal, ever since her early schooling. But his changed attitude made that almost impossible now.
"Learn about them, child. The more you learn about them, the more you will learn about yourself."
T'Pol glanced at the clock – 2300 hours – in all probability she was by now one of the last inhabitants of the compound not asleep or in intense meditation. She had come to a decision.
X X X
Slowly, careful not to draw attention by causing unnecessary noise, she stepped out of the Vulcan compound onto the street and adjusted the headscarf so that it hid her ears. The night was chilly, but the thermally-lined clothing kept her sufficiently warm.
Walking slowly, memorizing the path for her later return, she took in the atmosphere and the sounds of the city at night. It was surprising how quiet a city full of humans could be. The occasional low hum of a passing hover-taxi and the muffled conversation of passing pairs of human mates were almost all sounds that could be heard.
Suddenly her acute hearing registered a chaotic sequence of sounds. Adjusting her direction, she walked towards their source. There was obviously a limited repertoire of allowed frequencies, as many sounds repeated in variable spans of time. Rhythmic thuds underlined the sequence of sounds, steady and in perfectly timed repetitions – akin to the clock-like beating of a heart.
It was the sound of human music and it caused a number of – not at all unpleasant – emotions. Guided by following the rising volume of the music, she arrived at a small restaurant. Carefully entering it, she spotted a group of musicians operating a number of instruments, which appeared to be of considerable age, as were the members of the group.
The establishment was sparsely populated and she chose a table far from any occupied ones and listened to the seemingly chaotic sequence of accurately modulated sounds. The group of performers appeared to have an appointed leader. After each interruption of their play, he counted in a rhythmic fashion, swinging his forearm, synchronized to the count and, on his signal, all began operating their instruments. From then on, everyone seemed to know what he had to do, as no more guiding from the leader appeared to be necessary.
"What may I bring you?" A middle aged waitress startled T'Pol out of her analysis.
"Do you have tea?"
"We have Vulcan green tea or an assortment of human flavors."
T'Pol's eyebrow shot up instinctively, but the human woman seemed to have experience with that gesture.
"We're not very far from the Compound, we often have Vulcans in here. They usually sit here, because it's far from the occupied tables. The humans usually prefer to sit nearer to the stage."
T'Pol nodded as an acceptance of her explanation.
A short while later the woman returned with a cup of hot tea. "Your tea, please."
"Thank you," T'Pol replied and was momentarily confused by her choice of words.
"Can I do something else for you?" the human asked with a smile.
"I am unfamiliar with human music. What is this form of music called?"
"It's called Jazz. Do you like it?"
"It is strangely invigorating."
"You're not the first one to have said that," the waitress explained, still smiling and went to tend to her job.
When the group of musician finally ceased performing, T'Pol stood and went to pay for her tea, before leaving to return to the compound.
X X X
Vulcan Embassy, San Francisco, Earth, April, 4h 2151
"Have you reviewed the testing schedule, that Admiral Forrest has sent us, Subcommander?"
"I have Ambassador, and find it most fragmentary. Several important aspects have not been scheduled to test. After the almost catastrophic failure of the docking clamps in the last test, logic would dictate they specifically test their structural rigidity, but the humans obviously appear satisfied that the problem has been corrected without further tests."
"I shall bring that to Admiral Forrest's attention."
"There is also no mention of any weapon's calibration, let alone testing of such modifications. They appear to be ignoring our warnings concerning hostile races and appear to expect every civilization to meet them with peaceful intentions."
"They are naïve, but we cannot hold them back any longer. Their ship is completed and, except for a few minor problems, it is technologically sound. Once all the tests are completed satisfactorily, there is no longer any logic in holding them back on Earth.
The chime of an incoming transmission interrupted them.
"Ambassador, can you please come to Starfleet medical? We've had an incident involving a member of an unknown species."